Reviewer: Geordie Williamson

By this author

Culture February 20, 2021

The Death of Francis Bacon

Feelings of desperation and unhappiness “are more useful to an artist than the feeling of contentment”, said Francis Bacon, one of the most notorious figures of 20th-century art, “because desperation and unhappiness stretch your whole sensibility”. Agreed, …

Culture October 24, 2020

Our Shadows

In the winter of 1893, the Irish prospector Paddy Hannan and two compatriots noted the presence of gold in the place that would become known as Kalgoorlie. The diggings were soon swarmed, and a bustling mining town grew up in the years that followed, …

Culture September 19, 2020

Ordinary Matter

A scandalous discrepancy links the 20 short stories contained within Ordinary Matter. They are fictions inspired by scientific achievements belonging to women over the course of the 20th century. Yet these same women are embedded in an undertaking …

Culture March 28, 2020


Philosopher Glenn Albrecht calls it farmosophy – thinking philosophically and creatively in relation to the practice of farming. It’s a new name for an old undertaking – Hesiod’s agricultural poem “Works and Days” is one of the earliest …

Culture October 12, 2019

Ducks, Newburyport

James Joyce wrote Ulysses, he suggested, as a way of making the novel safe for women and children. He meant that the stream-of-consciousness technique he developed, with its concentration on interior psychological states and mundane domestic …

Culture September 14, 2019

The Man Who Saw Everything

“It seems to me then,” says the eponymous narrator of W.  G. Sebald’s 2001 novel Austerlitz, “as if all the moments of our life occupy the same space, as if future events already existed and were only waiting for us to find our way …

book July 27, 2019

The Nickel Boys

“Freedom,” wrote James Baldwin, still the most subtle and anguished anatomist of race in American letters, “is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.” Colson Whitehead’s …

Culture June 29, 2019

This Is Shakespeare

Let me count the ways in which Emma Smith’s This Is Shakespeare is the ideal book of its moment for unlocking the works of that most miraculous, mysterious and be-pedestalled figure in English literature. First, but least obtrusive in her …

Culture March 23, 2019

Kindred: A Cradle Mountain Love Story

It is the photographs scattered through the text of Kindred that grab our attention first. Two pairs of battered boots in close-up, hanging on a nail. A rudimentary bush campsite where a couple of thin ropes are tied between two trees and draped …